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Tempo E400 Railway Maintenance Truck with Personnel (38063) 1:35


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Tempo E400 Railway Maintenance Truck with Personnel (38063)

1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd




The A400 Lieferwagen was another of Hitler’s standard vehicles that is perhaps lesser known than the Beetle.  It was originally designed as the E400 and produced by company Tempowerk Vidal & Sohn from 1938, and was joined by an identical Standard E-1 that was manufactured in another factory.  It was one of the few factories that were permitted to carry on making civilian vehicles, although this permit was eventually withdrawn as the state of the war deteriorated for Germany.  After WWII ended, the company began making the type under the original E400 name, and it had a different BMWesque twin panelled front grille.  It continued in production until 1948 when it must have finally dawned on someone that one wheel at the front was a really bad idea, even if it was cheaper.  A concept that lingered on in the UK much longer so old geezers with motorcycle licenses could scare other road users effectively, and by carrying a football in the boot, they could emulate a giant whistle.  It’s an old joke, but it checks out.


Unsurprisingly to anyone that watched that episode of Top Gear, the wagon was a little unstable in the corners due to its single front wheel, and the weight of its front-mounted engine probably made matters worse, with a chain drive from the motor to the wheel.  The two-stroke 400cc engine in the A and E output 12 hp that gave it sluggish performance at best, which was probably just as well due to the front wheel instability.  The driver was situated behind the front wheel and short cowling that hid the engine away, with a pair of side doors for entry and exit, and a single-panel windscreen that overlooked the bonnet/hood.  The open load area was to the rear of the vehicle, with faired-in sides and rear tailgate for easy access to the contents.










Construction begins with the small cab floor, which has a planked texture engraved on its surface, and is fitted out with foot pedals, a hand-brake lever and narrow cylindrical chassis rail, plus a battery attached to the floor on the left.  The front bulkhead has a clear rounded windscreen popped in, a short steering column and a drooping lever, with the windscreen wiper motor cover added to the top of the screen’s frame, drilling two holes in the top corners, and fitting as small PE part on the bottom left of the firewall.  The windscreen assembly is attached to the front of the floor with a pot for the washers and the conversion stub of the steering column, with a pair of PE wiper blades added in a boxed diagram, plus the bonnet latch in the centre.  The padded bench seat for the crew is slotted into the floor, and the back is attached to the rear bulkhead that has two side hinge panels and a small clear window for later joining to the floor, and you’ll need to find some 0.3mm wire 24.6mm long to represent the linkage to the floor-mounted brake lever and the back of the cockpit.  The steering wheel and rear bulkhead are glued in along with the roof, then the two crew doors a made up, having clear side windows plus winders and handles that are quite delicate for realism, then they are installed on the cab, remembering that they hinge rearward in the manner sometimes referred to as suicide doors, as if the three-wheeler wasn’t dangerous enough!


The rear chassis is built around a tubular centreline member with the back axle and its triangular bearers slipping over it and adding hubs with brake discs at each end.  A sturdy V-shaped brace is added between the ends of the axle and the other end of the cylindrical chassis rail, with a large jointing part between them.  The rear wheels are made from a main part that includes the tyres and back of the hub, with a choice of two inserts slipped inside to represent two different hub cap styles, that are then fitted onto the axles on short pegs, with a brake-lines made from some more of your own 0.3mm wire and suspended from the frame on PE brackets that are folded over the wire, then glued to the frame with an etched-in rivet giving the impression that it is attached firmly to the chassis.  The load bed floor is a single part, adding side panels, lights on a PE bracket, adding angle brackets to the front for attachment to the cab.  The tailgate is fitted with a choice of two styles of PE number plate, adding rear arches to ridges on the side panels, then old-school swinging pegs that are fitted between the sides and tailgate.




After the rear axle and chassis tube have been fitted under the load bed and mated with the cab, the slide-moulded cowling for the engine is fitted-out with two fine PE radiator meshes, an internal deflector panel, PE numberplate under the grille, a pair of PE clasps on the lower rear edge of the bonnet, and a tiny hook on the top in between two rows of louvres that hooks onto the latch at the top of the windscreen.  The little engine is one of the last assemblies, and is superbly detailed with a lot of parts representing the diminutive 400cc two-stroke motor and its ancillaries, including radiator, fuel tank, exhaust with silencer and chain-drive cover that leads to the front axle.  The completed assembly comprises the motor, axle and the fork that attaches to the front of the cab and is wired in using more lengths of 0.3mm wire from your own stocks, which the instructions advise you makes you an “experienced modeller”.  Isn’t that nice?  After installing the front wheel and finishing the wiring, the cowling can be fixed in the open or closed position, when the little hook latches onto a clip on the roof over the windscreen, holding it up past vertical against the screen.  A couple of headlamps with clear lenses are fitted on the sides of the cowling and a pair of wing mirrors on angled arms are glued to holes in the front of the bulkhead on each side, with a PE bracket giving the appearance that the etched rivets are what holds it in place.






MiniArt have considerately included a handful of sprues of parts for you to add to the load bed of your newly-minted E400 wagen, including two track ties/sleepers, bucket, fire extinguisher, lantern, blowtorch, and various hand-tools for you to use at your whim, or load it up with a loose cargo, such as a big pile of ballast as seen in the profiles below.




Four figures and a collection of tools and accessories pertinent to their trades are included, in various poses to add a human scale to the model.  There’s a man bending forward whilst lifting a shovel-load of aggregate, another oiling something (hopefully not the other fellow’s ear), and a chap holding a toolbag, oily rag, and a lantern, then a more smartly dressed gentleman who is either their boss, the lookout, or both.  He’s holding a small trumpet to his lips as if to blow a warning note to get the crew off the lines.  The two accessory sprues carry a tool bag and box, folio case, a large shovel, oil-can, lamp, lollipop, handheld torch, and a folded flag for the gang boss to wear on his hip for easy access.   




The parts for each figure are found in separate sprues for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up.  The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s artists and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing, textures and accessories appropriate to the parts of the model.




The painting guide on the rear of the instructions doubles as the construction guide, and if you look carefully you’ll see that you need to supply a length of wire for the small lamp that one of the figures is holding.  You’ll also need to make up the ballast or whatever it is that the shovelling man is moving, but as you’re likely to be putting him into a backdrop with your own choice of groundworks, that shouldn’t present a problem.  Paint colours are given as swatches in the codes of Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO and the colour name in English, so finding a suitable shade from your own stocks will be a doddle.






There are four decal options for the truck on the sheet, all painted in a solid colour and decorated with the markings of the operator.  From the box you can build one of the following:


  • Deutsche Reichbahn, Early 1940s
  • Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD), Early 1940s
  • Deutsche Reichsbahn, 1940s
  • Deutsche Bundesbahn, 1950s
  • Deutsche Reichsbahn, DDR, 1950s






Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.




It’s weird with a handful of quirky, so of course like it, and MiniArt have also done a great job with making an easy to build, well-detailed kit of this quirky little German grandfather to the Robin Reliant.  I guaranteed there would be more of these coming, and I was right – I’ve lost count of how many we’ve had a look at now.


Highly recommended.




Review sample courtesy of


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